The sixth annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest had already closed when I finally had the time to stop by Reference Recordings’ booth to check out their latest mouth-watering HRx high-resolution master WAV file DVD-Rs. There I encountered Demian Martin, who, together with Ray Burnham, has produced the Auraliti (pronounced Aurality) disc player ($800).
“Right now,” Martin explained, “if you try to play hi-res files, you need to fool around with a computer. Nor does USB support hi-res 176.4- or 192kHz-sampling rate data in standardized format. Our alternative is the Auraliti, a computer specifically modified to play hi-res files.”
Martin claims that the Auraliti plays everything from 16-bit Red Book CD up to 24-bit, 192kHz files in “flawless, bit-perfect form.” With neither internal storage nor moving parts, its solid-state memory is “hard to screw up.” It also emits almost no heat.
The Auraliti, it should be noted, needs a little help from its friends. Users start with their computer, and transfer Red Book or hi-res files onto a separate USB hard drive (approx. $50) or memory drive (approx. $100). Once they use a USB cable to plug the drive into the Auraliti, it reads the data. So I guess you do need to mess with a computer after all to use the Auraliti.
You can also connect an iPod Touch ($200) to the Aurality, and gain access to the iPod Touch’s content through WiFi. Martin believes that any iPod user will be comfortable with the process. He also asserts that the Auraliti will play the content in bit-perfect form. “It doesn’t know how to do anything else,” he said.
The Auraliti does have an internal DAC, but sounds far better if connected to an external, state-of-the-art DAC such as Berkeley Audio Designs’ fabulous Alpha DAC ($5000) that Martin had on display. S/PDIF and optional switchable outputs are supplied.